One Night

April 19, 2017

One Night. Eric Jerome Dickey. 2015. 370 pages. Dutton. [Source: public library.]

I consider myself an Eric Jerome Dickey fan that’s fallen off the wagon.  I began reading his novels in my early 20s, and after I read Chasing Destiny, Genevieve, and Pleasure, he could do no wrong in my eyes. I’ve since expanded what I read, so it’s been a few years since I checked for him.  I was surfing my public library’s audiobooks when I came across One Night and was completely intrigued by the description. Two strangers, one night, murder, lies, etc? I was sucked in immediately.  Unfortunately, the book failed to live up to my lofty expectations of EJD.

One Night is a few hours short of a day in the life of former actress Jackie and The Man from Orange County.  Seriously, that’s how he is referred to throughout the book.  The book chronicles their introduction and parting in painstaking detail, giving minute-by-minute accounts.  It starts with Jackie trying to scam the wealthy, attractive man at the gas station into purchasing a iPad. It ends with a body in the trunk of a luxury car with sirens approaching. 

I will give EJD his credit — this has all the makings of a fantastic suspense-romance novel.  He introduces his two main characters surreptitiously, almost as if the reader isn’t supposed to ever know more about them. Then, he slowly peels back the layers about both Jackie and TMFOC, almost too slowly.  You learn about Jackie’s struggle to cope with the loss of her family years later, while TMFOC grapples with whether he can keep his together.  As the book goes on, however, I picked up on the fact that Jackie is, in many ways, an open book, but TMFOC is nearly a polar opposite. He comes across as cold and unfeeling, with quite a few secrets.  The meeting between the two is filled with a sexual tension that is palpable, and is probably the most engaging part of this book.  EJD’s style of foreshadowing lets you know that what he reveals matters, but he definitely makes you wait to understand why.  Nonetheless, the two characters do manage to pull you into them — their previous hurts, their future goals, their motivations — while still retaining an air of mystery.  I never felt like I got the whole truth about either of them, and I had a lot more questions at the end of the book.

I expected a ton of drama, enticing sex, and plot twists to make my head spin. Somehow, all of those factors were there, but still felt bland.  Part of this came from the dialogue between Jackie and TMFOC, which felt forced and unrealistic given the quality of their interactions.  More often than not, it bordered on pretentious, as if the characters needed to demonstrate their worth through their vocabulary.  Then, the sheer outlandishness of what happened to them and how they responded to these events throughout the day teetered on the edge of disbelief.  Part of what I’ve always appreciated about EJD is that even when what happens in the books seems a bit unbelievable, they’re still very much plausible.

It’s not fair to say I didn’t enjoy this book. After all, I kept listening and wanted to know what happened next. However, this is the first audiobook in a while that I’ve had to really force myself to finish, so I know it’s not an issue with the format.  While I’m still an EJD fan, this book definitely did not earn a place among my favorites.

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